Diverse modalities such as massage, Reiki, yoga, ayurveda, acupressure, hypnosis, homeopathy, naturopathy and many others can work in conjunction with each other as part of a unified team rather than in competition. We need to learn to combine the best of both worlds - high technology with high touch - and this is called integrative medicine, as pioneered by Dr Andrew Weil of the USA. Integrative medicine neither rejects conventional medicine nor embraces alternative medicine uncritically - just because most alternative medicine systems are 'natural' does not automatically make them better! For example, for emergency care in the case of acute medical problems such as a fracture, Western medicine is still the best bet. However, for chronic diseases such as arthritis, asthma, angina and hypertension, alternative medicine may offer a better choice for some patients. The most important requirement is that you need to find a good doctor, no matter what system of medicine you choose to follow. It is equally important that you understand the limits and the rationale of the system, so that you are not taken for a ride. Thus, if an ayurvedic doctor prescribes antibiotics, you should begin worrying!
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Our focus areas now are:
1. encouraging health insurance companies to invest in patient education
2. advocating information therapy
3. setting up a national network of patient education centers
4. developing patient educational materials in Indian languages for the web